LOS ANGELES — On a historic night, Joel Embiid summed up 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and seven blocks as “just playing basketball, being aggressive.”
If that’s what just playing ball looks like to Embiid, the rest of the NBA better take notice.
Embiid became the first player in league history with a minimum of that stat line. He was also the first to post more than 40 points, seven assists and seven blocks since Sixers legend and Hall of Famer Julius Erving did so in 1982.
In team history, Embiid became the first to score 40 points since Allen Iverson dropped 45 in 2006. He’s also the first player on the Sixers with back-to-back games of 30 points and 15 rebounds since Charles Barkley in 1988.
“Yeah, I am impressed,” Embiid said of his numbers. “I heard it has never been done in the league. Wish I could have had a quadruple-double with blocks. Shoutout Hassan Whiteside. But I just went out there and played basketball and played the right way.”
Embiid scored 28 points in the second half alone (see highlights). He shot 14 for 20 from the field, 2 for 3 from long range and honed his skill of drawing fouls to make 16 of 19 at the line. He committed only two turnovers, below his season average of 4.8, and was happy with playing team ball.
“He’s a beast,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s been doing really well. He’s getting better every game. We’re getting better playing together.”
This monster performance is the latest milestone in Embiid’s 42-game NBA career. He credited studying post players, particularly Hakeem Olajuwon, for improving his offense.
“I was proud to represent his move tonight, up-and-under shimmy shake,” Embiid said.
It was just less than a week ago that Embiid struggled with the ball in losses to the Kings (7 for 20 from the field, five turnovers) and the Warriors (4 for 11, seven turnovers). He has wanted to be more aggressive since Saturday’s game in Oakland, and he responded with 78 points and 31 rebounds in 70 minutes combined in the Sixers’ consecutive wins over the Clippers and Lakers.
“I love L.A.,” Embiid said. “I love the STAPLES Center. I wanted to come out here and put on a show, so I did.”
Brett Brown has been saying Embiid would improve with time and repetition once he enhanced his fitness level. Embiid hasn’t played in a back-to-back set yet and didn’t pass 30 minutes for his first six games of the season. Brown expected to see a difference in Embiid after Thanksgiving. The holiday came early.
“It’s always that slippery slope of playing with pace and movement, and then realizing you’ve got Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “Tonight, we realized we had Joel Embiid, and the stat line that he produced was just dominant.”
Hard to imagine there was anything missing from Embiid’s stellar night, right?
"Too bad there wasn’t any trash talk out there," he said, "but I still had fun."